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January 14, 2009 1:28 PM   Subscribe

How do I make my shy friends comfortable *enough* to come to my party?

I am having a 'Ladies Night' type of party(a clothing swap to be precise) this Saturday and have made sure to invite all of my outgoing friends (who would be sure to come, sure to have a good time types) including my introverted, more shy type of friends.

All of the outgoing ones have, of course, said yes, the slightly less shy have semi-guaranteed that they'd be here, asking if they could come early to get acclimated (of course, yes! I'd love that) so that is all good.

To the very introverted I have extended the invite to them and a friend (so they know someone besides me). The very shy ones have asked how many will be there, and also expressed that they don't feel like they'd know anyone (hence the invite-a-friend) to which I have assured them that all my friends have one thing in common, they are sweethearts. These are also women who have said many times to me that they wish they could do something like this more often but ______(insert introvertspeak here) so I am just going on that vs. projecting my outgoingness on to them.

I will be providing varied social lubricants including food, liquor and neutral-ish music. I myself know that as long as the hostess has a good time, things should go smoothly and Good Time is my middle name.

I've looked at the many Asks dealing with introverted people and accept that some may not come to my smallish (5-15 people) party because they are just *that* shy, and so the answer there is they will not come. O.k. I get that.

Aside from the answer, "Some people just will not come" and short of outright begging, what could I say to you, as that shy person, to push you over the edge to make you want to leave the cocoon of your world and travel (a short distance) to my low-brow, sweetheart filled, similar age-y, pretty much guaranteed you'll like everyone party?
posted by Grlnxtdr to Human Relations (39 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
It might help to provide an outline/timeline of what is going to happen during the evening. This may help them to see the structure and where they fit into it rather than seeing a giant black hole of "OMG-I-have-to-make-conversation-all-night-with-strangers".

Anything that eases their fears will help.
posted by pixlboi at 1:40 PM on January 14, 2009

because they are just *that* shy, and so the answer there is they will not come. O.k. I get that.

Apparently you don't.

what could I say to you, as that shy person, to push you over the edge to make you want to leave the cocoon of your world and travel (a short distance) to my low-brow, sweetheart filled, similar age-y, pretty much guaranteed you'll like everyone party?

I am that shy person, and that sentence steams my clams. I'm not broken, I don't live in a "cocoon" and I love to travel. I just don't like to go to clothing swaps full of 30-something women who call each other "sweetheart". So, to answer you question, what you could say is "it's ok if you don't come" and actually mean it, and still hang out with me some other time.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 1:41 PM on January 14, 2009 [22 favorites]

Ask them for their absolute favorite kind of drink, and as soon as they arrive provide it to them; don't wait until they ask for it.

To answer your question: I have no idea. You're asking vegans to indulge in meat. But the answer is probably alcohol.
posted by trotter at 1:42 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

As a formerly (and sometimes still) shy person, good job for making them feel welcomed!

One thing that might help is if you keep enthusiastically encouraging them to come without being overbearing. Sometimes insecure folk need more than one reminder that someone really does want our company at X event and is not just inviting us out of politeness.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 1:43 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

As a shy person, this sounds like a lower circle of hell. I second Green Eyed Monster. If they back out, they back out. It's not because they're defective or too wrapped up or whatever.

To make things easier, maybe have people showing up at different times so it's not like OMG HI TO A MILLION PEOPLE, but more like 'this is Shirley' and then 10 minutes later or whatever 'this is Annabelle.'
posted by sperose at 1:45 PM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

Ask the shy ones to come over early "to help you set up". That way they can meet each person as they come in, (instead of an overwhelming group).
posted by Kololo at 1:52 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow, Greeneyed...I certainly didn't mean to offend you. I never said you were broken. It is certainly ok if they don't come, and I do mean that. I'm not going to hold a gun to their heads.

I called my friends sweethearts, because they are sweet of heart. Sorry if that pisses you off for some reason.

Also, if I didn't think you were into it, I wouldn't have invited you.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 1:53 PM on January 14, 2009 [9 favorites]

what could I say to you, as that shy person, to push you over the edge to make you want to leave the cocoon of your world and travel (a short distance) to my low-brow, sweetheart filled, similar age-y, pretty much guaranteed you'll like everyone party?

"Person X, whom you know and like and get along well with and is as introverted as you, will be there."

Try meeting the introverts at other times, with just one or two people, so that they'll have a similar person to connect with at the larger parties.

I myself know that as long as the hostess has a good time, things should go smoothly and Good Time is my middle name.

You sound as though you don't a clue about introverts and may be driving them away. Introverts need space to recharge from the energy of meeting and greeting. Your description sounds of the event sounds like hellish hell for an introvert and that is should be avoided at all costs.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:56 PM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

It might help to provide an outline/timeline of what is going to happen during the evening. This may help them to see the structure and where they fit into it rather than seeing a giant black hole of "OMG-I-have-to-make-conversation-all-night-with-strangers".

Good lord, please do not do this. Is this a meeting? No agendas.
posted by fixedgear at 2:02 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Sweetheart" can be extrovert code for overly effusive and sometimes intrusive. Bubbly personalities grate on this introvert. That word instantly raised my hackles. I'd respond better to "my friends are cool" or "they're laidback."

Make sure they know it's OK if they don't bring clothing. Don't put pressure on them to do anything unless they offer ("Can I bring something?"). Make sure they can leave at any time and that you don't have some special event 2 hours into the evening that they feel like they have to stick around for. Don't make them the center of attention by announcing their presence or introducing them to absolutely everyone. Make one or two attempts to be inclusive, and then let them sit in a corner if they want to.
posted by desjardins at 2:02 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

You didn't piss me off. "steamed clams" is somewhere above 'annoyed', but definitely below 'pissed'. I don't think you're a bad person, I don't think most extroverts are. Hell, I married one. I just think that most of them don't really understand... oh well.

And yeah, booze helps, too.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 2:05 PM on January 14, 2009

Clothing swaps can be a landmine of awkwardness as well. No one wants to be subjected to having their taste in clothes competitively evaluated; guests on either tail end of the bell curve, size wise, aren't going to want to deal with standing out either. (I recently avoided one of these because I didn't want to bring my size 2 cast-offs anymore than a larger friend wanted to gamely show up with her size 14's.) Things always get weird. Can you have a book swap instead, at some later date?
posted by availablelight at 2:05 PM on January 14, 2009

Oh shit! I should always write every damn word of my Askme's, every thought!

Brandon, I didn't mean that as long as *I* have a good time, everyone else will automatically have a good time, I have taken great care in worrying about this. What I should have said is that I, myself will not be all stressy, so I will be able to attempt to make my guests happy including and moreso the shy ones.

Shy people, I am not trying to call you defective! I am trying to get a few of you to come to my house for drinks and to eat some food. If you don't want to come, you don't have to! Not trying to impose some sort of hell on you or make you eat meat. I am asking what would be the words that would make you go, were you on the fence.

I will now try to butt out of this thread, but I can assure you all, I hold nothing against introverts, I just want you to come to my party. If you don't want to come, I will still think you're good people.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 2:08 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Shy girl here. I like parties and I actually love making outgoing friends, but it's still hard for me to get motivated to go to a party where the host is the only person I know. Sometimes it's mild anxiety, but more often it's a feeling of "what am I going to do for three hours at this place, ehhh forget it."

If you'd like to have parties like this in the future, it might be a good idea to introduce your shy friends to your more outgoing friends in smaller groups, one outing at a time, e.g. "Hi Jane, my friend Ann and I are cooking dinner at my place and I'd love you to come too." If Jane takes you up on that offer, and later you throw another party and invite both of them, she might be more willing to come since she now knows two people who will be attending.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:09 PM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm that shy person, too.

1. To know someone. that helps. Or at least have the hostess make introductions to other people around so I can at least gather up the courage to have light chit-chat

2. Give me a job to do. I like going to a lot of events and I've found if I'm the "Designated camera guy" that helps me because a.) I can hide behind the lens and b.) it's a conversation piece ("oh so you're a photographer?"). I went to a party and ended up serving drinks just because it gave me something to do and I felt I had a purpose there instead of being there to be social.

3. Don't hold a gun to my head. I have two extroverted friends that LOVE to have me over to parties. Many times, when I say "no" they do everything to convince me to come...thus I come begrudgingly.

4. "Sweethearts" would not do it for me. Something in common would like "well Amy is going to be there and she really, really digs Dr. Who...you like Dr. Who, right?" That would be something I could latch onto.

5. There is a t-shirt that says "I'm just shy, no really, you can talk to me." If I'm in an awkward situation, I like for people to talk to me. I may not respond but it sure takes the brunt off me to have to come up with badly put together conversation. So maybe tell some people ahead of time "hey can you talk to _____ for a bit until she seems she's comfortable?"

Anyway I can't speak for all introverts but for me I have a very hard time going to a party where I don't know anyone and usually the end result is me drinking too many glasses of beer to compensate for the awkwardness (Which, of course, makes everything bad)

hope this helps
posted by Hands of Manos at 2:11 PM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

you know what, scratch 5...fake conversation would drive me nuts
posted by Hands of Manos at 2:14 PM on January 14, 2009

For goodness sake with the pile-on. I interpreted the premise of the question was how to make the party seem appealing to shy people while also tacitly affirming that hey, maybe they just don't want to come. Maybe she should have footnoted everything with "Not That There's Anything Wrong With That" to convey sufficient compassion?

Lots of my shy friends who are sensitive about their perceived social ineptitude will worry that they're getting invited out of pity. If these are the shy people you're targeting, then your question is absolutely valid. I've had a few dinner parties where my shy friends have protested, "Oh, you're just being nice, you know how awkward I am with strangers," as if they're more concerned about the success of my party than the fact I want them there and that they might even enjoy themselves. I generally try to make them feel included on a fundamental level, like asking them to bring a playlist or a meal, helping me with the guest list, etc, so they feel wanted and included rather than a pity-invite. I always, always emphasize that they can leave whenever they please, but for the most part everyone has fun and stays late.

But this only works if your super-shy friends are bailing out because they think they'll embarrass you with their awkwardness or secretly suspect you just feel bad for them. And yeah, for lots of shy people, a chatty, tipsy, girls-only party sounds like the eighth circle of hell to certain people who are wont to handle friends on an intimate, one-on-one basis. Tread carefully and sensitively and you'll be golden.
posted by zoomorphic at 2:18 PM on January 14, 2009 [13 favorites]

another idea. Have the introvert meet a few (1-2 max) friends ahead of time (a day before?). Man that takes the pressure off ten fold when I know at least someone...even remotely.
posted by Hands of Manos at 2:26 PM on January 14, 2009

I'm the most extroverted introvert you'll ever likely to encounter. I'm reasonably good at attending parties and making conversation and I run a women's social group on meetup.com, but not-so-secretly deep down inside, I find it all totally exhausting. I don't get the same joy out of those social events that an extrovert does.

Hands of Manos speaks well and true. If there's time, have them meet some of your other guests ahead of time -- just a couple, so there'll be someone there they know besides you. I know you told them they could invite a friend, but showing up with someone you know is not the same as arriving to find someone you know.

Also, asking them to do something can really help. I often make commitments to attend things from a distance when it seems safe and non-taxing, and then when the actual night arrives and I have to face the thought of actually going out and being with people and being chatty, I get exhausted just thinking about it, and I try to back out. If I've been tasked with bringing something or doing something, I can't back out, and I have something to fall back on as my excuse for being non-social for a few minutes while I'm there. This is a fine line to walk, though, between giving them something useful to do to make them better, and making them feel like you're shoving them in a corner because they're no fun.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:56 PM on January 14, 2009

I'm pretty shy, and will usually only go to parties if some or all of the following conditions are fulfilled.

1) I can bring someone to cling to and converse with, like another close friend.
2) There will be booze, and I have a way to get drunk and safely get home.
3) I know the person hosting well enough to offer to help with things, or am pre-assigned a task to do. This can include helping someone set things up, cooking things (even if I'm not invited to, I'll almost always try to plant myself in the kitchen and do prep work or cooking, as it exempts me from trying to make awkward small talk), mixing drinks, or taking photographs.

To translate this to your situation, it sounds like you've got 1 and 2 taken care of, so focus on 3. Invite your shy friends over earlier to help set up or ask them if they would be able to help you [do a thing that you know they're good at]. That way they'll be able to start drinking before all the loud, outgoing people show up, and they'll have a place (kitchen, bar) to retreat to if they're wearying of forced conversation or feeling out of place.
posted by booknerd at 3:00 PM on January 14, 2009

The shy people will only go to the party if there will be several other people that they know present. "Bring a friend" doesn't help - they will be worried that they will just talk to their friend all night and they can do that elsewhere without being thought antisocial. Or that their one friend they've brought will hit it off with someone and become BFF and leave them stuck on their own. Speaking as a shy person, there is nothing in this world that can induce me to go to a party where I will only know the host and few or none of the other guests. I never want to spend another evening standing helplessly on the periphery of strangers' conversations. You need to introduce your friends to one another in small groups some time in advance, so that when you invite your shy friends to the party you can point out that two or three people who they have had pleasant conversation with in the past will be there. Otherwise, all the party has to offer is a bunch of strangers swapping clothes, which to many introverts is surely one of the circles of Hell.
(ie what Metroid Baby said)
posted by nowonmai at 3:04 PM on January 14, 2009

I'm supersupersupershy (no, really), but here's what will get me to attend something in addition to what you've already done:

1. I personally find an expectation of what's going on to be useful, so that I don't end up feeling at loose ends or concerned for whether or not I'm doing the right thing.
2. Having something to do other than sit and freak out when it gets quiet or interaction is focused elsewhere.
3. Knowing how prompt I have to be - if I can get there late or leave early if I have to argue with my brain about going, this can be the real clincher.
4. Being introduced to everyone else, specifically (pools of strangers with no names = nameless anxiety).
5. Having a quiet place to retreat to if I get overwhelmed. I haven't needed this in a while, but when I first started trying to get over my shyness, the hosts who provided this were heroes.
6. Being clear on what I need to bring for participation/comfort (food, drink, seating).
7. Not for me, but has helped with shy friends w/ these issues: addressing allergy/restriction concerns regarding environment/refreshments openly, so they don't have to wonder if they need to dance around an uncomfortable situation.

Shy folks who got upset: dang, y'all. People don't often try to cater to us like this. Keeping it constructive helps us all. I know there are a lot of sensitive spots flicked, but it's clear she has good intentions.
posted by batmonkey at 3:05 PM on January 14, 2009

I'm shy and introverted and have been to several gatherings like these, usually food swaps. I came away wishing the swap activity for the evening had happened earlier than it did, as afterwards I knew something about each person and had something to talk about them with ("I used to have boots/earrings/gloves like those..."). The uncomfortable part was straining to make small talk with strangers for a few hours before things got started. If you have the clothing swap early the introverts will have the opportunity to gracefully leave afterwards but before the get exhausted, while those who want to socialize further can stay.
posted by Miss Matheson at 3:33 PM on January 14, 2009

I'm introverted but not shy. I am careful about whose parties I go to, because I just plain do not like all my friends' friends, and I've had terrible times when their extroverted friends just cluster and chat with each other and _ignore me_ when I try to join in. (Admittedly, most of the people where that was a regular problem are no longer friends of mine.)

So to make *me* comfortable, I'd need to have faith in your choice of friends, generally by having met them beforehand (or having met other of your friends), or possibly because you tell me that they do not mostly all already know each other. It would also depend on how much I'd been social recently, which you can do nothing about except giving them enough time to plan.

That said, you couldn't pay me enough to go to a clothing swap (while I would happily go to most other parties). Clothing tends to be fraught. Maybe it would work better if I knew that the clothing part were one specific period, or in a separate room, so I could be uninvolved there.

Finally, if you're in Maine (as your previous question said), if you're having anything near the weather we're having just to the north, then you'd better be providing a lot of warm drinks. Hot chocolate would tempt me, or coffee with appropriate liqueurs, or mulled wine, etc: you'd know your friends' tastes.
posted by jeather at 3:35 PM on January 14, 2009

(I know you asked about shy people, but your question sort of conflated introverted and shy people, as people tend to do, and I figured I'd put in my two cents. I also know shy extroverts.)
posted by jeather at 3:36 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

One thing to do (if it were me), is be sure to convey that yes, you really do want me to come to the party. It might take multiple reminders. I've often not gone to things because there's a whole list of people already going to it, so if I'm not there, no one's really going to care.

Also, have these girls been to your house before? If not, that can be a problem. Be sure you provide good directions, and numbers to call if lost. If you can show that you're conveniently located, that might be reason enough to go. But if it's going to be a pain to get there, that's another strike against you.
posted by gueneverey at 3:49 PM on January 14, 2009

It would be very hard to get me to come to this. But I'm trying to think... Perhaps reassure me that if I want to come for just a little while, and then it's overwhelming and I decide to take off, that's cool and you won't mind? I can psych myself up to go many places if I promise myself I can leave after an hour if I'm totally uncomfortable. (And about half the time I do actually decide to say once I've talked myself into it, just having the out available helps.) With the kind of thing you're talking about where there's a structured activity, I would be really worried that if I leave early I'm screwing up your whole structured plan.

To be perfectly honest, another thing I'd be worried about is that I am a fairly large size and in my head your friends I haven't met are probably all skinny models. (Yes, it's weird and illogical in my head.) Maybe that doesn't apply to any of the people you're talking to. But if any of them are larger, and you know other plus-sized folks will be attending, that might be something to mention, if you can come up with a casual way to do it. Or mention that in addition to being a clothing swap it's a cool jewelry / funky shoes / handbag / whatever swap. I don't want to be the woman in the corner with the heap of fat clothes no one else wants to look at it, but I have some fun jewelry I don't wear anymore and would be delighted to trade sparkly things with someone.

Again, this is all very individual, but... is there an assigned task I can do? I might hate to be at loose ends chatting, but if I have something specific I can do that would be awesome. Personally, I'm a baker. If I can come early and get started on a fancy tart or something, that gives me a chance to be around as people start trickling in, get to know people a little, but also have an assigned task I can go back and focus on if I get overwhelmed. By the time it's done I'm probably feeling more comfortable and ready to socialize. Or if not, hey, I can go back in the kitchen and make brownies or something. Maybe not as interactive as you want me to be in your event, but you do get some of my company and you get awesome baked goods for your party, so it's at least partly a win-win, right?
posted by Stacey at 3:53 PM on January 14, 2009

As a shy person, I can tell you have good intentions but understand that some of us are reacting negatively to the question because we're a little sensitive to "shyness" always being OUR problem, because pretty much all of pop culture/culture in general tells us this. You don't need to apologize, we're just reacting a little bit to everyone who has ever made us feel bad for not being bubbly and social. We don't think anyone is going to eat us, our behavior is not irrational.

At least for me, shyness is not a bad thing, when I'm "acting shy" I'm probably just trying to be polite, not intrude in other people's business or conversations and not impose my ideas on the good time they seem to be having. Sure there is a certain amount of fear of rejection involved in shyness, and in the extreme it can be debilitating. Its' just that the SHY vs. OUTGOING dichotomy says shyness/negative, outgoing/positive. What if we said, CALM vs. DISRUPTIVE? I think both comparisons are lacking because there's a hierarchy going on. Introvert vs. Extrovert is taking steps to solve this problem, but I still always feel like its still colored by the traditional introvert/negative, extrovert/positive thing.

God, anyway, I'll quit analyzing this like I'm writing my thesis or something, and add a couple of pointers like you asked for:

1. Personal, sincere introductions go a long way. Introduce people one and one and stay in the conversation for a while. Don't just go around a room or group of people announcing names. This might seem over the top, but if you want to make shy people feel comfortable at your party you have to be ok with going beyond what you might think are regular hostessing duties (which you seem to be!) and not secretly feel like you have to "babysit" your shy friends.

2. Organize events/activities in a way that there is an established way to participate and that everyone is assured a turn. As a shy person that wants to meet people but doesn't want to step on others toes, I really enjoy when it is sort of guaranteed that people will be paying attention to what I have to say. Like, each going around a circle telling a funny story about one of your items of clothing.

3. Giving people a role is very helpful, its good to feel productive, like you're adding something to the party even if you're not cracking everyone up.

4. Make a rule that there is no badmouthing any of the clothing unless it is your own, not even in a funny way.

5. Most of all, I'm not sure what you can say or do BEFORE a party to convince a shy person to come, other than build your track record of helping out your shy friends in situations like these. I think arranging smaller meetings will be important here.
posted by dahliachewswell at 4:14 PM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

Make them feel obligated. Seriously, if you want them there, that's how to do it. No matter what you try to do to be accommodating, or how you slice and dice it, these sorts of gatherings are just not enjoyable for introverted people. They're exhausting. End of story.
posted by losvedir at 4:19 PM on January 14, 2009

Addendum: Actually, I suppose you can get them to go if you can convince them it'll be worth their while and give up on the idea of convincing them that "it'll be fun" or "it'll be great".

Whenever I go to gatherings with lots of people, especially when I don't know them ahead of time, it's really uncomfortable and I'm glad when it's over. That's just the way it is, even if the people are very nice or whatever. However, sometimes I come out at the other end with a new friend or job prospect or something. In those cases, I'll be glad I went even though I didn't enjoy myself during the evening.

So come at them from the angle that when the night is over and they're relieved to be heading home, they'll have something to show for it. Tell them about one very specific person who you think could be a good friend and why, or show them a new recipe, or something.

Consider a bunch of masochists wanting to invite you over. The masochist posts a question to metafilter asking "I have this friend who isn't a masochist, how can I inflict pain on her in such a way that she'll enjoy it like I do?" Well, you can't make her enjoy it, but she'll take it if it's for a greater good.
posted by losvedir at 4:32 PM on January 14, 2009

I'm not afraid your friends will eat me. I just know the whole night is going to be uncomfortable and tiring. Hell, when I throw parties full of all my favourite people, it's still a big relief when they finally go away! It's a lot of effort for me, and I don't usually bother putting that much effort in for strangers, which is why I would turn you down.

As for those suggesting you invite them to come early to help you set up, it only works because a) they have something other than "socializing" to do, and b) they're hoping to get some one-on-one time with you before the exhausting strangers arrive.

The introvert key is this: Your friends are probably nice, they would just be a lot nicer in Small Doses. Invite me to coffee or brunch with one of your other friends. A small party for me is 2-6 people. 15 people? That's a BIG group, especially if I don't already know them, and it leads to information overload and introvert shut-down. Then people tell me to smile and say "she's so quiet", and other false and irritating things.

Now, if this clothing swap were 6-8 people, and I knew 75% of them, and I had some sense of their sizes and styles, and I had a role to play at the party (food preparation, DJ, etc), then I would be much more likely to show up. Especially if it were easy for me to duck out when I hit That Point.
posted by heatherann at 6:37 PM on January 14, 2009

To follow up, I texted the girl I was most worried about and told her it was fine if she didn't feel like coming and that I understood. She called me and asked a lot of questions and I invited her to come over and meet one of my more social friends a day early. She happily said that that would make her feel a lot better. So, thanks for that.

I also reassured her that none of my friends were size zero models (I had already taken sizes into consideration) and you could hear her relief at that as well.

I will make sure she has a "job" to do if she wants it. I will make sure that no one sits there and just talks about work. I will make the major activity of the night start early so people don't feel like they have to stay forever. I will keep in mind that this is some form of torture for some people, and keep my eyes open for signs of uncomfortableness. I plan on being sort of directive, so I can keep everything flowing and also starting at 6 or so, so Moms can get home early.

As far as making it smaller, it's too late for that at this point, but I will keep this in mind for the future.

I have to note that a lot of the introverts use words like 'tiring' or 'draining'. Since I get energized and happy being around other people, I struggle a little trying to understand that. That doesn't mean I won't try, and the answers here have enlightened me quite a bit.

Lots of food for thought here. Thanks to all who answered so far.

(I will probably only continue to post questions of a human relations nature, since the responses are so *real*. This is why I paid *my* 5 dollars)
posted by Grlnxtdr at 6:49 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another reportedly "shy" person here. I'm actually quiet and misanthropic, which is often confused for timidity because in many social situations I'm balancing my yearning to flee with the necessity of keeping my snarkiness under control. I'm not a WOOOOO kind of girl, or very huggy or giggly. The high pitched squealing and laughter of large groups of women causes a visceral reaction of horror in me.

For me, a miserable evening is going to a friend's house for some "girls only" event where I won't really know anybody except for the hostess. I always get stuck sitting quietly by myself, bored, while the rest of the party guests, who all know each other from college/work all talk at great length about their mutual friends and histories together. I have sworn off baby and bridal showers for these reasons.

For me to come to a party like this and actually have fun, I'd have to know and like a handful of other people attending. Invite me out for drinks with a couple of your friends that you think I'd have something in common with. Then, if I do come to your party and you find me curled up on the couch looking at a book or playing with your cat, please don't drag me back into the circus. Instead, show me where the cat toys are or bring me a couple of other books you think I'd enjoy browsing through. If you do something like this, I will adore you forever.
posted by pluckysparrow at 6:57 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

I see that you conflate shyness with introversion. AHA! They are DIFFERENT! Shy people want to hang out with other people more than they already do, they're just nervous about it and avoid it even though they want it. Introverted people are cool with their level of socialization, know what they will enjoy and what they won't enjoy, and act accordingly.
posted by sondrialiac at 7:20 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you're really trying to understand and accomodate your friends even if you don't fully get it (which is totally fine - I don't even begin to understand finding other people energizing!). I'm sure your friends appreciate that, even if you wind up not being able to convince all of them, or if some of them go and leave early, or whatever.

One thing I forgot to note earlier, that I'm reminded of now that you bring up the draining/tired thing... It truly can be physical and mentally exhausting for the introverted, going to an event like you're describing. I would typically come home from something like that feeling as if I needed to stay home and not interact with anyone for at least 48 hours (longer if I didn't have to go to work and pay the bills and stuff), and it would be a while before I wanted to do anything social again. Which wouldn't mean I don't appreciate your effort and didn't like your other friends, it just means I did what for me was a big, somewhat scary, exhausting thing, and it's going to be a while before I'm up to doing it again.

The friends I am most grateful for are the ones who understand and don't freak out if, after we do something on the bigger side of our social sphere (big party, road trip together, whatever), I retreat for a little while to my happy little homelife of cats and books and gardening. It's a recharging thing, not a rejection.
posted by Stacey at 7:37 PM on January 14, 2009

From your follow-up it sounds like you did great. One thing that has helped me with this recently when introducing two shy people was mentioning to each that the other was "a little shy." This way I think each felt like the pressure not to be shy was off. With a recent clothing swap I attended, some people had brought things like scarves and costume jewelry, and that helped a lot to smooth over any uncomfortableness since we had people of all shapes and sizes.
posted by hazyjane at 11:07 PM on January 14, 2009

I have to note that a lot of the introverts use words like 'tiring' or 'draining'. Since I get energized and happy being around other people, I struggle a little trying to understand that.

Well, there's a difference though between something being energizing and something making you happy. I love being around other people--it really does make me happy, and I couldn't do without it. But it is also tiring. I have to pace myself, socially, so that I'm not too tired to enjoy the plans I do make with people.

Something like this sounds like it would be a lot of fun--even if I didn't know many other people--but only under the right circumstances, most of which would be out of your control. Things like whether I was in the mood to meet new people (even as an introvert I'm absolutely in this mood sometimes), and whether I had a lot of other stuff going on that week. Choice of time and place is something that you do have control over and can really help, but of course that depends on the individual. I'm always telling people to invite me to things right after work on weekdays because I know myself, and I know I'm more likely to be excited to do something if I don't have to kill time in between or worse, leave my house after getting comfortably settled in. But even if everything else is good, I won't enjoy it if I'm already very tired. Only if I already have energy to use.

Really, it's just like any other activity. Say, you plan to go to the beach. It's awesome, it's sunny, you get a great tan, you go for a swim, it's tons of fun and you feel really happy while you're doing it. But when you get home, you're exhausted. That's what a fun social gathering is like for an introvert. It being tiring doesn't preclude it from being enjoyable. It's just not going to energize an introvert if they're already tired from something else...and then it won't be enjoyable. Does that help at all? I just like that you're trying to understand so I wanted to give a little more info.
posted by lampoil at 11:15 AM on January 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

Lampoil, yes that does help.

I *am* trying to understand and of course all the advice here (minus any negativity) was very helpful.

Thanks a bunch to all.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 3:21 PM on January 16, 2009

Addressing the clothing swap specifically, every swap that I´ve been to involved putting all the clothes together in a big heap or putting all the boxes and bags in one spot. After this it was not obvious who had brought what, or who had not been able to bring anything. Occasionally people might have something special they would pass out one of to everyone, or set aside because it was breakable, or something.

What has appealed to me about clothing swaps is the possibility of getting fabulous free clothes, with the bonus that I get to see (secretly or not) some things I don´t care for anymore delight other people.

You want people to have a good time, but you want them to have a clothing swap too. Sell them on the clothing swap, not on the ´OMG we are going to have so much fun at the clothing swap.´ I always feel a little bit obligated to ´have a good time´ at events where the host has pushed things as being fun.

Hearing that it´s ¨pretty much guaranteed you'll like everyone¨ would give me the impression that I´ll need to tell you how much I liked everyone later, which sounds really tiresome. Maybe I´ll have a great conversation with K and fail to even meet your friends L, M, N, O, and P, and I don´t want to hear about how disappointed you were that I didn´t.
posted by yohko at 7:47 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

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